Add Least Recently Used values eviction as a supplement to garbage collection.


Currently, the single mechanism for controlling memory usage in salsa is garbage collection. Experience with rust-analyzer shown that it is insufficient for two reasons:

  • It's hard to determine which values should be collected. Current implementation in rust-analyzer just periodically clears all values of specific queries.

  • GC is in generally run in-between revision. However, especially after just opening the project, the number of values within a single revision can be high. In other words, GC doesn't really help with keeping peak memory usage under control. While it is possible to run GC concurrently with calculations (and this is in fact what rust-analyzer is doing right now to try to keep high water mark of memory lower), this is highly unreliable an inefficient.

The mechanism of LRU targets both of these weaknesses:

  • LRU tracks which values are accessed, and uses this information to determine which values are actually unused.

  • LRU has a fixed cap on the maximal number of entries, thus bounding the memory usage.

User's guide

It is possible to call set_lru_capacity(n) method on any non-input query. The effect of this is that the table for the query stores at most n values in the database. If a new value is computed, and there are already n existing ones in the database, the least recently used one is evicted. Note that information about query dependencies is not evicted. It is possible to change lru capacity at runtime at any time. n == 0 is a special case, which completely disables LRU logic. LRU is not enabled by default.

Reference guide

Implementation wise, we store a linked hash map of keys, in the recently-used order. Because reads of the queries are considered uses, we now need to write-lock the query map even if the query is fresh. However we don't do this bookkeeping if LRU is disabled, so you don't have to pay for it unless you use it.

A slight complication arises with volatile queries (and, in general, with any query with an untracked input). Similarly to GC, evicting such a query could lead to an inconsistent database. For this reason, volatile queries are never evicted.

Alternatives and future work

LRU is a compromise, as it is prone to both accidentally evicting useful queries and needlessly holding onto useless ones. In particular, in the steady state and without additional GC, memory usage will be proportional to the lru capacity: it is not only an upper bound, but a lower bound as well!

In theory, some deterministic way of evicting values when you for sure don't need them anymore maybe more efficient. However, it is unclear how exactly that would work! Experiments in rust-analyzer show that it's not easy to tame a dynamic crate graph, and that simplistic phase-based strategies fall down.

It's also worth noting that, unlike GC, LRU can in theory be more memory efficient than deterministic memory management. Unlike a traditional GC, we can safely evict "live" objects and recalculate them later. That makes possible to use LRU for problems whose working set of "live" queries is larger than the available memory, at the cost of guaranteed recomputations.

Currently, eviction is strictly LRU base. It should be possible to be smarter and to take size of values and time that is required to recompute them into account when making decisions about eviction.